“A new approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking… If that means legalizing, and the world thinks that’s the solution, I will welcome it. I’m not against it,” Santos said in an interview published Sunday.
The Colombian President, who has admitted to smoking marijuana in college, recently plead in favor of legalizing the drug, but told The Observer world leaders should not reject the idea of legalizing cocaine too.
“I would talk about legalizing marijuana and more than just marijuana. If the world thinks that this is the correct approach, because for example in our case we used to be exporters, but we were replaced by the producers of California. And there even was a referendum in California to legalize it and they lost it but they could have won. I ask myself how would you explain marijuana being legalized in California and cocaine consumption being penalized in Idaho? It’s a contradiction. So it’s a difficult problem where you set the limits. It’s a difficult decision. For example, I would never legalize very hard drugs like morphine or heroin because in fact they are suicidal drugs. I might consider legalizing cocaine if there is a world consensus because this drug has affected us most here in Colombia. I don’t know what is more harmful, cocaine or marijuana. That’s a health discussion. But again, only if there is a consensus,” Santos told the weekly.
Despite his repeated calls to rethink the war on drugs and consider the legalization of drugs, the Colombian President reiterated he does not want to be the main promoter of legalization as he fears stigmatization of himself and his country, which long has been the world’s number-one producer of cocaine.
“What I won’t do is to become the vanguard of that movement because then I will be crucified. But I would gladly participate in those discussions because we are the country that’s still suffering most and have suffered most historically with the high consumption of the UK, the US, and Europe in general.”
The people who help drug addicts recover through drug abuse treatment programs will continue to do so regardless of whether the government legalizes presently illicit drugs or not.